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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, yes, the FDA has an old policy that bans gay men from donating blood and it's kind of homophobic. It is no longer applicable and is based on fear. Once again I'm serving as an unofficial PR for my friend, Steven Thrasher, who has written an  eye-opening article for the Advocate. More below the fold...

Steven writes:

Today, three years after the American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers blasted the policy as "scientifically and medically unwarranted," congressional representatives have ramped up pressure on the FDA to reconsider the ban. They’re not alone. Several colleges and universities throughout the nation have scrapped on-campus blood drives, claiming that the policy runs counter to collegiate antidiscrimination rules. Abroad, Italy and Spain have adopted blood donation policies based on the risks of sexual practices, regardless of sexual orientation, while several other countries now allow gay men to donate if they have abstained from sexual contact for one year.

This is a long article which goes into a great deal of wonky detail. I am not an expert on the topic, but it seems that this is just another example of Americans cutting off our noses to spite our faces. With increasing pressure to end DADT there is continued focus on the stupidity of firing a gay, Arabic translator or decorated pilot (or frankly anyone willing to serve in a time of war) because of silly, antiquated concerns. It seems to me that this issue is related.

In an era in which we are always in need of blood donors, blood testing is really accurate and HIV isn't even the only disease we need to worry about being transmitted by blood, it would seem that the FDA policy is a quaint hold-over from the Reagan era. Why eliminate an entire segment of the population from providing a vital volunteer service?

Perhaps I'm naive in thinking that the public at large wouldn't even notice if this policy had changed and most wouldn't care. Yes, a few wing-nuts would freak out about "the AIDS", but it seems time that the FDA overturn this archaic policy and usher in an era of common sense...not that the FDA was ever big on common sense....

Originally posted to corkgirl on Tue Oct 13, 2009 at 03:32 PM PDT.

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